It's a shabby consolation prize when your best isn't good enough.
I have a friend who is going through troubling times in her relationship, a relationship that she treasures. Her mate is questioning the validity of their union (through nobody's fault, I might add). It's just the way he's feeling. I know that she has given everything she has to that relationship. I know that there's not a more loving person on earth. She gives her best. Suddenly, for whatever reason, her best isn't good enough.
And my best isn't good enough either, because all I can do is say feeble things like, "I'm here for you. Let me know if there is anything I can do. I love you." All good things, albeit a bit over-used and mostly useless when it comes to facing down our worst fears and deepest sorrows.
It's not like the birthday cake is a little bit lopsided. It's not like you came in second in the marathon. It's not like you fell short of a fundraising goal. Those kinds of times are when doing your best is really pretty damned good. Those are times when anyone else will tell you, "Don't be silly. You're amazing."
That doesn't apply here. That doesn't apply when our best has no effect on something that is out of our control. I'm talking about those moments when life just feels... well... fucked. And it's nobody's fault. Doing my best didn't keep John from being in pain, nor did it cure his cancer. Doing my best meant nothing (to me, at least) in the face of what he suffered. It was like trying to put out dragon's fire with a thimble of water. Did that stop me from feeling guilty and useless and angry? Not at all. My best wasn't good enough and it ripped me apart.
So, where do we go when our best isn't good enough? What can we do? And I do believe that with holidays coming up and all of the bittersweet mélange of flavors that come with family dynamics, this is a timely question. I don't know that I have much of an answer, but I'll... give it my best.
What you can do for yourself when Your Best Isn't Good Enough...
- Be gentle with you. Berating yourself for something you have no control over will send you spiralling.
- Take some time to meditate. Five minutes of deep breathing and a quiet place does wonders.
- Let other people in. Tell someone how you're feeling, what you're going through. Get the shit out.
- Cry. Allow yourself to mourn.
- Don't be afraid to ask for a hug from someone, anyone.
What you can do for others who are experiencing My Best Isn't Good Enough...
- Be there. Just... be.
- Give love. This isn't a time for judgment or questioning.
- Listen. Don't placate. They're feeling what they're feeling and it's justified. Let them feel it.
- If possible, touch. Hold their hand. Throw an arm around their shoulders. Hug them. Anything that will help them feel less alone.
- Refer back to point No. 1 as often as needed.)